Rotary has polio on the ropes in India

January 17, 2012|By Jim de Boom

Rotary Club members worldwide, including those in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, are cautiously celebrating a milestone in the global effort to eradicate polio.

India, until recently an epicenter of the wild poliovirus, has gone one year without recording a new case of the crippling, and sometimes fatal, disease.

Rotary International has been a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative since 1988, along with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and theU.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also a key supporter of the initiative.


Sporting their signature yellow vests and caps, the nearly 119,000 Rotarians, from India and around the world, have helped distribute vaccines to Indian children.

"With the support of their Rotary brothers and sisters around the world, Indian Rotarians have worked diligently month after month, year after year, to help organize and carry out the National Immunization Days that reach millions of children with the oral polio vaccine," said RI President Kalyan Banerjee, of the Rotary Club of Gujarat, India.

Contributions during the past five years to the End Polio Now fund from local Rotary Clubs include $29,642 from Newport-Balboa, $4,938 from Newport Beach Sunrise and $9,585 from Newport Irvine. Rotarians worldwide have raised and contributed over one billion dollars over the past 25 years.

"Marching ahead, the goal is to sustain this momentum," he added, describing as potentially "decisive" the upcoming immunization rounds this month and in February and March.

Neighboring Pakistan, which has reported 189 cases so far for 2011, is a threat to India's continued polio-free status. Last year, an outbreak in China, which had been polio-free for a decade, was traced genetically to Pakistan.

"We are this close," said Newport-Balboa Club President Bill Hossfeld, holding two fingers about an inch apart.


Lions honors members

Harbor Mesa Lions presented two of their members with Melvin Jones Fellowship awards at the recent District 4L4 dinner, which was in honor of the founder of Lions International, Melvin Jones.

The current president, Carol Proctor, and Vice President Eileen Jensen received this award, which is the highest honor a club can present to a member. Both of these members have earned these honors with many service hours and chairing projects that benefit the community.

Lions International is the world's largest service organization and has clubs in 206 countries.

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